The origins of a pioneering group
Crédit Mutuel was founded in the 19th century by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, a municipal officer faced with the poverty of rural communities. From the first solidarity initiatives to today's bank: main stages of development.
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen was born on March 30, 1818 in Hamm (Germany). Following his studies in Coblence, he became the mayor of Weyerbusch. Aware of the problems faced by his constituents during the economic and food crisis from 1846 to 1848, he sought to ease them by founding an “Association for bread” in 1846 and creating a community bakery.
Raiffeisen translates the social thought movement of the 19th century into action by developing mutual financial aid associations based on savings, loans and mutual guarantees. The precursor to the first Crédit Mutuel local banks takes shape.
In response to the food shortage of 1846-47, he creates an organization that builds a cooperative bakery and buys seeds. The money is borrowed from a bank with the organization providing collateral in the form of a mortgage on the town's forests.
Raiffeisen creates a farmers’ aid society to combat usury. The members guarantee the borrowed capital collectively.
The foundations of the cooperative movement are laid: unlimited responsibility of the members; unpaid work by the directors; small geographic area.
In 1852, Raiffeisen is transferred to Heddesdorf, where he creates the "Heddesdorf Charitable Association", which in 1862 becomes the "Cooperative Lending Bank of Heddesdorf".
This heralds the birth of local lending banks, or rural banks, where loans are available thanks to the solidarity of all the members. These local banks give rise to various banking institutions, such as Crédit Mutuel in France, and the Raiffeisen group in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
Birth of a challenge
The first Crédit Mutuel local banks are created in Alsace. Based on the Raiffeisen system, they cater to the needs of small farmers who are victims of usury.
The oldest Crédit Mutuel local bank based on the Raiffeisen model is in central Alsace, in La Wantzenau, which today is part of the Urban Community of Strasbourg.
Things take off quickly: the principles espoused by Raiffeisen are well-received by a population with a strong community culture.
Raiffeisen's ideas are adopted in France by Ludovic de Besse, who will go on to create Banques Populaires, and Louis Durand. A Lyon lawyer, Durand establishes local banks based on the Raiffeisen model in 1893 and consolidates them under the Union des Caisses Rurales et Ouvrières de France (UCROF - a farmers’ and workers’ banking union).
The French government supports farming and offers advantages to local banks that agree to provide aid to the rural infrastructure. Some will respond positively and create Crédit Agricole in 1920. Others will refuse in order to preserve their independence and maintain their mutual status. They will give birth to Crédit Mutuel.
Crédit Mutuel takes root in the countryside, grows, lives through wars and adapts. In 1901, the local banks are classified as non-profit organizations. It is not until the law of September 10, 1947 is passed that they are given the status of cooperative.
The order of October 16, 1958 confirms Crédit Mutuel's organization. The status of the local banks is defined, as is that of the confederation to which the regional federations have belonged since 1959. In 1970, the group diversifies and creates bankinsurance with Assurances du Crédit Mutuel (ACM).
Crédit Mutuel now holds a prominent place in the banking sector, the scope and activities of which are set out in the banking law of 1984.
In tune with its members' needs, it takes a technological leap by introducing remote banking through various channels – from Minitel to Internet – while still focusing on close relations through local banking.
The Minister for Economic Affairs, Finance and Industry names Crédit Mutuel as the purchaser of 67% of the capital of Union Européenne de CIC. This acquisition of control confirms a change of scale and establishes the group as one of the French banking sector’s biggest players.
The 2000s and international expansion
The Crédit Mutuel group continues to grow, diversifies, asserts itself as a leader in new technologies and expands internationally.
A local retail bank and bankinsurer, the group develops mobile phone services and the electronic payments and payments processing market; it expands testing of contactless payment, making banking easier for its customers while remaining true to its commitment to proximity.
A stronger group
In 2010, the group ramps up its cooperation with Banco Popular. This strategic alliance enables it to control a new bank in Spain with 123 branches, on a 50-50 basis with Banco Popular. A new alliance that increases the international share of its business to 18%.
Crédit Mutuel continues to grow despite the financial crisis. It completes several major acquisitions, confirming a Europe-wide development strategy: acquisition in late 2008 of Citibank Germany (renamed Targobank in 2010) and of Cofidis in 2009.
A broader scope
Launch of Targobank Spain.
Integration, via Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe, of Citibank Belgium (442,000r customers and 34r branches) and OBK Bank.
Expansion of new subsidiaries, particularly Targobank and Cofidis.
Signing of a global cooperation agreement with Mouvement Desjardins.
Acquisition of Spanish company Agrupació Mútua by Assurances du Crédit Mutuel.
By 2014, Crédit Mutuel has locations in 13 European countries.
A wider presence
In Portugal, with Cofidis’ acquisition of all the capital of Banco Banif Mais, SA, Portugal’s top auto loan specialist.
In Spain,with the acquisition of Atlantis which, along with the integration of Agrupació in 2012, will help it consolidate its growth in that country.
In France and Germany, with the acquisition by BFCM of General Electric's leasing and factoring businesses.
Keytrade Bank merges with and becomes a branch of Arkéa Direct Bank (formerly Fortuneo SA), a French credit institution.
Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe completes the merger between its Belgian Beobank and BKCP Banque subsidiaries.
Watson, a new, innovative "cognitive" solution that supports the network and customer relations, is launched.
An award-winning group
The group is ranked as one of France's strongest banks following the July 2015 stress test; it is classified among the best banks in France by rating agencies and considered the best French banking group by World Finance, and Global Finance, The Banker: Explore our Awards and Recognition.